Education

Monday, August 16

2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

How Covid 19 Impacts Accounting and Finance 

Tessa is a CPA and principal of Curtis Blakely & Co., P.C., Certified Public Accountants, in Longview, Texas. Tessa has a B.B.A in Accounting from the University of Texas at Tyler. She joined the firm in 2000. Tessa provides consulting, tax, and auditing services for independent and cooperative telephone companies and their non-regulated subsidiaries in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Her primary focus is auditing and client consulting services for telephone and water utility companies. Tessa became a certified fraud examiner in February, 2012.

Presented by Tessa Fowler, Principal, Curtis Blakely & Co., P.C.  Tessa is a CPA and principal of Curtis Blakely & Co., P.C., Certified Public Accountants, in Longview, Texas. Tessa has a B.B.A in Accounting from the University of Texas at Tyler. She joined the firm in 2000. Tessa provides consulting, tax, and auditing services for independent and cooperative telephone companies and their non-regulated subsidiaries in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Arizona, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Her primary focus is auditing and client consulting services for telephone and water utility companies. Tessa became a certified fraud examiner in February, 2012.


3:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Hit Your Targets with Digital Ads

In a digital-first world, are your messages reaching the right people? Learn how to build an effective advertising strategy for the digital marketplace. We will share tips from WordSouth’s team of content strategists, covering search engine marketing, targeted social media campaigns, the role of value-driven content (video, eBooks, blogs), and the best digital tools to not only reach customers but engage them and keep the conversation going.

Presented by Andy Johns, Director of Marketing & Business Development, WordSouth
Andy Johns is the director of marketing and business development at WordSouth — A Content Marketing Company. Before coming to WordSouth in 2011, Andy was an award-winning newspaper writer. He studied communications with a concentration in journalism at Berry College and earned his MBA with a marketing focus from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. At WordSouth, he works to help telcos tell their story, market their services and train their people. He’s been honored to deliver more than 30 presentations at industry conferences around the country in the last 5 years.


3:30 PM – 4:15 PM

Fire, Aim… Ready? Panel Discussion Navigating Concealed Carry in Rural Telecom

Attendees will hear from managers of similarly situated (mostly rural ILECs) companies how they contend with balancing a citizen’s right to carry with an employer’s need to satisfy the needs of customers.

Moderated by Sheila Gladstone, Principal, Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C.
Sheila Gladstone heads up Lloyd Gosselink’s Employment Law Practice Group and has over 30 years’ experience assisting employers with all aspects of employment law. Sheila uses a direct approach and gives practical advice to help employers deal with personnel issues and employment regulations, so they can focus on their core mission or business. For several years running, she was among the five percent of Texas attorneys selected for the Texas Super Lawyers list, which recognizes outstanding professional achievement, and was selected for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. Sheila graduated with high honors from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1987, where she was an editor of the Law Review.

Panelist Jennifer Prather, Vice President and General Manager, Totelcom
Jennifer Prather, CPA is the Vice President and General Manager of Totelcom Communications, LLC, a rural broadband and telecommunications company headquartered in De Leon, Texas. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington and her Masters of Accounting from Texas Christian University. Prior to joining Totelcom in 2010, she worked at the accounting firm of Saville, Dodgen & Company in Dallas, Texas where she specialized in tax and business planning and compliance for the firm’s closely held business and high net worth client group. In addition to her role at Totelcom, Jennifer serves as a board member of National Telcom Corporation and Telcom Insurance Services Corporation and as a trustee on the NTCA Retirement and Security Program and Savings Plan trust committee. She serves as a board member and officer of TTA.

Panelist Billy Colston III, General Manager, Riviera Telephone Co., Inc.
Billy Colston, III is General Manager of Riviera Telephone Co., Inc. in Riviera, Texas. Situated approximately 100 miles North of the Texas/Mexico border in the Texas Gulf Coast, Riviera Telephone Co., Inc. serves approximately 1,000 square miles of mostly farm and ranch land.  Colston has spent time as a firearms instructor, training civilian, law enforcement and military in the pistol, carbine and rifle arenas. 

Panelist Bill Rakowitz, General Manager, YK Communications
Bill Rakowitz served 17 years as a licensed peace officer working 2 years with a municipal police department and 15 years with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.  Bill is a fourth-generation member of management at YK Communications, where he currently serves as General Manager and is the Licensed Manager of the company’s Private Security Business. He has an Associates of Applied Science degree from Wharton County Jr. College.  He is a licensed Amateur Radio Operator and enjoys adding new technologies into an old hobby.


Tuesday, August 17

8:30 AM – 9:30 AM

Keynote Address – Overcoming Resistance to Change 

Human resistance to change can undermine a company’s ability to quickly adapt to new business challenges and opportunities. The usual solution to any interpersonal problem is said to be communication, but by definition the resisters are saying “no” to the leader’s attempts to educate and persuade. Getting resisters to change requires a different set of tools, not just more and better communication. 

Presented by Jerry Jellison, Change Management Expert  Dr. Jerry Jellison has been a full professor of social psychology at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for over 30 years. He held previous appointments at Duke University, the University of Missouri, and the University of Texas, Austin. Jerry has received multiple teaching excellence awards. His notable courses are Interpersonal Relations and Applied Social Psychology.

Read More about Dr. Jellison here.


9:30 AM – 11:00 AM

REMOTE…Controls:  Impact of virtual environment on Living, Learning, Legal…ing

Panel Discussion Moderated by TBD 

Panelist Bobby Templeton, Superintendent, Ingram ISD 


11:15 AM – 12:00 PM

Inside the Mind of a Consultant  

Intense focus on client success, safety and staying ahead of potential pitfalls and opportunities are critical in today’s environment. This session will cover five topics relevant to the current regulatory environment and requirements, industry opportunities, and future challenges.

Mossadams logo

Presented by Sharon Minor, Moss Adams  Sharon Minor serves as Director in the Moss Adams Telecom Consulting Practice. She has been providing telecommunications consulting services for rural telephone companies since 1989. Her areas of expertise include cost study preparation, universal service filings, forecasting, and preparation of other state and federal regulatory filings. Sharon received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Louisiana Tech University. She is a Certified Public Accountant, a member of the Texas State Society of Certified Public Accountants and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


1:00 PM – 1:45 PM

OTT Revenue Stream – Security as a Service

In a demanding market with pricing pressures on broadband and increased security risk, learn how you can offer over the top security services with little capital investments to increase customer value and revenue.

Peoples logo

Presented by Jason Slagle, Director – Commercial Development, Peoples Jason has over 20 years telco experience working with Tier 1’s and Tier 2/3’s in roles from engineering to business development. Jason is currently serving as the Director of Commercial development and Managed services with Peoples Communication.


Wednesday, August 18

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Membership Meeting, Legislative and Regulatory Update 

Members only
TUSF, reg mandates on horizon (SHAKN/STIR), legislative issues

Rusty Moore, COO and General Manager, Big Bend Telephone
Russell A. (Rusty) Moore was named general manager and chief operating officer in 2012, after helping guide BBT (Big Bend Telephone Company) through two decades of growth, technological and policy evolution. As GM, Rusty oversees the daily operations and implementation of the company’s strategic vision and the management team, keeping in stride with the constant evolution of technology and policies impacting rural communications companies. Rusty currently serves as chairman of the USTelecom Board of Directors, president of the Texas Telephone Association Board of Directors, and was elected to serve on the NTCA Board of Directors representing the Southwest Region commercial companies. He is also a participating member of the NECA Rate Development Task Group and both the Texas Telephone Association’s Legislative and Regulatory committees. Rusty previously served on the NTCA Industry committee, is a former president of TSTCI, and has completed the inaugural Telecom Executives course sponsored by the United States Telecom Association and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Program. In his twenty-nine year tenure with BBT he has been involved in all levels of operations and management. Rusty is a native of Alpine, where he currently resides with his wife Ginger and also where he received his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business from Sul Ross State University in May 1990.

Presented by Wes Robinson, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Wes Robinson is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for Eastex Telephone Cooperative, Inc. He studied at Lamar University and the University of Texas at Austin where he received a B.A. in Economics.  He started his career in the Texas Senate, where he organized the Senate Messengers in the 72nd Legislative Session. He worked his way up from the mailroom to administrative clerk to legal assistant at the law firm of Clark, Thomas & Winters helping gas, electric and telecom clients with state regulatory matters. He consulted with rural telecom clients for more than two decades with JSI, building trust and providing his expertise. Wes has served as the chair of the Texas Telephone Association’s Regulatory Committee since 2018.  He was the recipient of the Texas Telephone Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2019, the Association Member of the Year Award in 2002, and has received 8 Chairman Citations for his service to TTA’s members since 2000.

Presented by John Hubbard, Founding Partner, Premier Legislative Consulting
John Hubbard has 30 years experience in the public policy arena. He was first exposed to public policy when earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin, before going on to receive his Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from Indiana University. He also completed an internship at the prestigious l’Ecole Nationale d’Administration (National School of Administration) in Paris, France.

After his education, John returned to Texas to work at the Texas Sunset Commission, which makes recommendations to the Legislature on whether to continue operating state agencies, and if so, how to improve those operations. The Sunset process in Texas has resulted in more than $750 million in savings to Texas taxpayers.

John then went on to become a legislative advisor to State Senator David Cain. While working for Senator Cain, John was responsible for advising the Senator on a number of policy areas including economic development, electric utilities/alternative energy sources, taxes, environmental protection, the state budget, education, health and human services, animal welfare, thrift regulation, and veterans’ affairs. He developed effective bi-partisan consensus-building strategies to ensure passage of the Senator’s legislative initiatives in these areas. He also served as the Senator’s senior speech writer.

In 2003, John began his career as an independent lobbyist and policy consultant. He has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of policy areas. His clients have included alternative energy advocates, telecommunication associations, healthcare providers, public education groups, occupational associations, and child development organizations. These groups have ranged in size from multinational Fortune 500 companies to small non-profit organizations. He has been named in the top ten lobby power rankings by Mike Hailey’s Capitol Inside website.

Presented by Ian Randolph, Principal, Premier Legislative Consulting
Ian is a highly respected and trusted fixture at the Texas Capitol with over two decades of experience working in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He is a long-time legislative and political advisor, most recently serving as Chief of Staff for Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. of Brownsville. Prior to that, Ian worked for Senators David Cain of Dallas and Ted Lyon of Rockwall. During his career, Ian has worked for members in both Chambers, all of whom have been chairs of major standing and special committees.

Throughout his time in public service, Ian has held most every possible legislative policy position, from Policy Analyst, Committee Analyst, Legislative Aide, Committee Director, Legislative Director, to Chief of Staff. He has working experience with all aspects of the legislative process from appropriations to the Senate Floor. Additionally, Ian has worked on thousands of bills covering nearly every major issue facing Texas.

As a result, he has developed a superior understanding of the legislative process and has earned a reputation for his bi-partisan results-orientated approach, effective policy work, integrity, and thorough knowledge of parliamentary procedure. He also has extensive communications experience particularly in press relations and speech writing.

Ian joined Premier Legislative Consulting in 2012.